In 2010 the United Nations deemed April 23 “Spanish Language Day.” It is a day to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity and to promote the use of all six official languages throughout the UN. The April date was chosen to honor Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, author of Don Quijote and other literary works, who died on April 22, 1616.
Today, Google celebrates Spanish Language Day by featuring the letter “Ñ” in its daily Doodle. Here are some fun facts about the Spanish letter “Ñ”:
- The tilde on the “Ñ” has a special name. It is called a “virgulilla,” which means “little comma.”
- The “Ñ” developed from a superscript abbreviation for a double “N.” (What in Modern Spanish is “año,” for example, is spelled “anno” in Old Spanish.)
- The logo of the Instituto Cervantes, an educational organization with locations around the world that celebrates Spanish language and culture – features the “Ñ’ in its design.
- It is the only letter of the Spanish alphabet with true Spanish origin.
- The “Ñ’ first appeared in the 12th century and officially became part of the Spanish alphabet in the 18th century.
- It is now a symbol of Hispanic identity and culture.